06 December 2011

Byzantine Jesus; Not the Grinning Blond Beau-Hunk.

This painting was made for Mark Scandrette. Mark's request to me was simple, one word, "Jesus". Not surprising since Mark is an author and speaker who focuses on spirituality and social justice.

Being Greek Orthodox, my approach to this was obvious. Byzantine. In the Eastern Orthodox Church there are very specific traditions in portraying holy images that developed in the Byzantine World and still practiced by iconographers today. I don't think there is another form of Christianity in which visual art as important as the Orthodox. (Well, Coptics... but... same thing really.) 

Catholics seem to like Renaissance realism with a large dose of drama. Christ's face filled with excruciating passion in theatrical lighting.

Many protestant groups seem to be more comfortable with a blond cartyoonish-friendly-grinning-beau-hunk-next-door version of Jesus. A kind of Santa Claus-like figure.

The Orthodox portray Christ as a meditative figure. The images are very stylized to suggest a realm that is not physical. In many ways this is very similar to how 20th century expressionist painters created emotional content in art.

I am not a trained iconographer but I do understand the basics of the visual language used in the Eastern Orthodox Church. So, I did my best. This painting humbly emulates the style. Flattened perspectives, articulated clothing, illuminated face. In one hand Christ holds the bible, with the other he is giving a blessing.

Anyway, Thank you Mark!

Working on a new painting for the Panda right now... and it involves another bear... but no light bulb...